The Trans-Continental Railroad was a great and infamous milestone in our country’s history when it comes to transportation. Congress thought long and hard to find a transcontinental plan that would work for the country. Congress finally passed an effective trans-continental plan known as the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862, right after the south seceded and the Civil War began, and happily signed by President Abraham Lincoln. In this essay we will look into detail of what the Trans-Continental railroad was and its construction, along with why it was so important and such a big issue.
The four men that really brought this idea to life, known as the “Big Four”, were Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins. These men were the driving force behind the railroad, also placing there own money into the construction. These four men came together, all being merchants, and formed the Central Pacific Railroad Company.
The plans for construction are as follows. The law stated that two railroads, coming form opposite sides, would work their way towards each other until they met. Both of these railroad lines were given a lot of financial support, not only monetary but, they were given areas of land as well. For instance, for every mile of track laid, each company was given 6,400 acres of land. Two years later these figures were changed, each railroad was now granted twice as much land as before. Also, America’s railroad tracks would now have a standard setting of 4 feet 8.5 inches in width.
“The greatest historical event in transportation on the continent occurred at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869, as the Union Pacific tracks joined those of the Central Pacific Railroad” This quotes shows how really important the railroad really was to our country linking the California to the rest of the country. It formed the basis of the huge Southern Pacific system. This was the foundation of transportation that we have used for centuries and in some form still use today.
In conclusion, the Trans-Continental Railroad was extremely important to the development of our country. It linked our country together for the first real effective time in history. Without the great men and ideas behind it, it would have taken our country a lot longer to see the railroad track come together. This time in history we really see a great development in transportation and a great development in the making of America’s history.